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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

HUMANISTIC EDUCATION                 167

studies as necessary for an educated man apart from their content.
"I have said," remarks the younger Guarino, "that ability to write
Latin verse is one of the essential marks of an educated person.
I wish now to indicate a second which is of at least equal im-
portance, namely, familiarity with the language and literature of
Greece."* Latin verse is, of course, a formal study; and, as
his argument shows, the knowledge of Greek he desired his
pupils to acquire was scarcely less formal. It was not the literature
of Greece that was his prime interest, but its words and idioms
as throwing light on the Latin language. His discussion of the
method of teaching points in the same direction. " The founda-
tion of education," he says, "must be laid in grammar"; and
he goes on to explain that grammar falls into two parts, the first
treating of the rules which govern the use of the different parts
of speech, the second including the study of continuous prose,
especially of historical narrative. So, again, he urges that the
writing of Latin verse should be preceded by a study of the
rules of scansion, followed by the daily reading of the poets.
Now it is quite true that acquaintance with grammatical and
metrical rules is absolutely necessary for the thorough knowledge
of a language. But the detachment of rules from their context
in actual use and the concentration of attention on them before
the reading of literature begins throws open the door to all the
abuses of formalism. The study of form in itself is apt to get an
exaggerated value attached to it, inconsistent with the humanizing
aims of literary culture.

Whether this preliminary training in grammar did actually
interfere with the proper appreciation of literature in the case
of the Guarinos it is impossible to say. But that the danger
was a real one is proved by the great elaboration of the analytical
side of language study in the generation to which the younger
Guarino belonged. Thus we find Perotti, one of the last of
Vittorino's pupils, writing Metrice, the first modern treatise on
Latin prosody, and Rudimenta Grammatices, the first modern
Latin grammar. It was typical of his work, the excellence of
which is generally recognized, that in a discussion of " tropes "
for students beginning the study of rhetoric he makes no less
than thirteen subdivisions. This emphasis on the formal aspects
of language was carried still further by his successors, and before
* Woodward, Vittorino daFdtre, p. 166.